The drone could be the conservation game-changer as researchers are discovering innovative ways to improve the way ecological data is collected and analyzed, and utilized.
FREMONT, CA: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or drones have a great deal of brilliance to be explored for commercial use cases. Major businesses, government agencies, and other institutions are actively assessing the potential of drones to create innovative opportunities. Drones are presenting a new frontier in environmental research and wildlife conservation as well. Ecologists are increasingly using them to gather data. Just like how they are working on agricultural fields to improve the agrarian process and yields, these crew-free vehicles are helping to monitor the fauna of the regions. This type of wildlife monitoring could lead to their conservation, and the data are used to study animal behavior and analyze their patterns. Here is more to it.
• Ecosystem Monitoring
Ecologists carrying out field studies are commonly interested in animal behaviors and how their natural state changes when environmental conditions are altered. Drones for these ecologists provide a useful tool to help with site assessments and the analysis of animal behaviors. They have already become an affordable and cost-efficient tool to quickly map targeted area for purposes, including biodiversity conservation. Governmental authorities are using drones mounted with high resolution, multispectral cameras to evaluate the state of ecosystems, the intensity, and effect of disturbances, and movements of biological communities. Protected areas are sites for ecological monitoring. Drone-aided monitoring provides essential information to track changes in the ecosystem as a result of environmental factors. Drones are especially deployed to timely survey areas at unprecedented detail, and they are proving to be advantageous in monitoring Essential Biodiversity Variables (EBVs). Also mapping and quantifying ecosystem with drones is an efficient method to add benefit to site design and zoning—especially when the availability of information is scarce. Besides, monitoring habitat degradation with drones in conserved areas is an innovative method to assess the performance of conservation actions. Using fine-scale habitat assessment with drones could assist in selecting suitable reintroduction sites for species at the verge of extinction.
• Managing Ecotourism
Well managed ecotourism can promote conservation. Otherwise, it will adversely affect the welfare of the animals and their habitats. Amid this confusion, drones are proposed for recreational and instructional purposes, document natural sites, and visitor surveillance. Drone surveillance is being implemented to cater to the increasing demand for conserving wildlife. Only more straightforward use and recommendations of drones are advisable to be cautious to minimize the potential drawbacks drones may bring to protected areas.
• Environmental Management
Effectively managing protected areas requires continuous monitoring of indicators to ensure the potential sources of contamination are controlled, and it is essential to take appropriate steps for restoration. In most cases, what is required is a rapid response because it only can minimize the effects that disasters pose to natural resources and wildlife. To this end, drone technology offers a fine-scale solution remotely assist soil, water, and air quality monitoring. It also facilitates rapid image acquisition to monitor erosion, sediments movements, forest windthrow, habitat degradation, volcanic events, oil spills, wildfires, and so many others. Drones may also serve as perfect tools for rangers in rescue missions in various regions.
• Law Enforcement
Efficient control and monitoring of illegal activities are essential measures of effective management of conserved lands. Law enforcement aims to maintain the integrity of threatened species and ecosystems. But the process of law enforcement is often challenging in cases of large protected areas and species that are on the verge of extinction due to illegal hunting and encroachment. Drones constitute a perfect solution to compete with the above challenge. It can complement insufficient staff and resourcing in anti-poaching. Drone surveillance can detect and track subjects and camera systems with real-time visibility can add to it. Monitoring of any suspicious activity or adverse weather conditions can contribute to conservation. There are barriers to use drones for surveillance, and more research is needed to identify advances and best practices that minimize the risk to the welfare of wildlife but serve for inspection. With all these, there are some compelling reasons to encourage the development and implementation of drones in wildlife monitoring, the need to solve the recurrent threat to biodiversity.
Experimental drone monitoring projects are on the rise both by governmental institutions and research groups for adding information on the distribution, health, productivity, composition, and biomass of forests using sensors. As a result drone application for habitat restoration is maturing at a fast pace Drone use is at the tipping point for these type of applications over natural areas. The success of drone use is attributed partially to their high flexibility to carry different sensors and devices. The scope of application is determined by the combination of an aerial platform and payload. Drones come in many different shapes and sizes, and the widespread is the small fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft that are used for video and still photography. This consumer-grade device, coupled with cameras and multispectral sensors, can deliver expert mapping solutions at a meager cost than previous photogrammetric techniques. The advancement of drone technology is sure to provide companies and other governmental organizations with a useful tool to aid their businesses and other initiatives in a cost-effective manner.